Zinedine Zidane is back in the Real Madrid dugout, 10 months after leaving the Bernabeu, and his return could well spell grave news for Premier League clubs.
Real Madrid have endured a shocking season under the hapless duo of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. The restoration of Zidane is unlikely to result in any more silverware this term - they are out of Europe, the Copa del Rey, and 12 points off the pace in the league - but rumours are rife that he’ll be handed a £300million war chest in the summer, as reported by The Independent, in a bid to conquer all competitions in 2019/20.
Here are FOUR Premier League players Zidane must attempt to lure over to sunny Spain…
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
In terms of ‘Galactico’ signings, the focus is inevitably on the blockbuster attacking players Zidane could splash the cash on this summer. We’ll get to a couple of those in a minute, but the returning Frenchman must first look at another area of the pitch.
Real Madrid have leaked in 32 goals in 27 La Liga games so far this season, and have failed to keep a clean sheet in nine matches in all competitions. Only one team in the top-9 of the table has conceded more, while it’s only three goals better off than relegation-threatened Villarreal. On top of that, the sizeable tally is nearly double the amount neighbours Atletico Madrid have given opponents this term (17).
In other words, something needs to change.
Real’s first choice back-line is undoubtedly strong, after all they’ve got a couple of World Cup winning centre-backs ahead of Thibaut Courtois in Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. It’s the area in front of the pair that Zidane could look to boost.
With that said, Real must target another world champion in N’Golo Kante. But instead of replacing Casemiro, the duo could both be employed together - what an impregnable forcefield that could prove to be.
Kante is the best defensive midfielder in the world, a position he’s been forced to depart this season due to Maurizio Sarri’s preference for Jorginho. Zidane’s fellow countryman, winner of two Premier League medals, has only recently signed a new contract, however he the chance to excel in another league could prove irresistible.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Tottenham may have avoided a potential tug-of-war with Real Madrid for their boss Mauricio Pochettino, but the Spanish giants could now swoop for a couple of the club’s star names instead.
It’s difficult to envision Harry Kane ditching Spurs, but playmaker Christian Eriksen continues to be hotly linked with a move abroad. The Dane, who reportedly earns just £75,000 at Tottenham, has a year left on his contract but a switch from England’s capital to Spain’s equivalent would see his wages swell substantially.
Eriksen, in his prime at 27, would also command a huge transfer fee, although a deal involving the return of Gareth Bale could potentially be on the cards given the latter’s desire to leave.
Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)
Just over a month ago The Sun reported that Real Madrid had their sights set on a blockbuster £100m move for Marcus Rashford. The English sensation has yet to pen a new deal but given his sparkling former under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it seems only a matter of time before a contract is signed.
Could Rashford be tempted to leave for Real Madrid should Zidane come calling this summer?
On current viewing it’s difficult to envision the forward exiting Old Trafford, although should an offer present itself he could decide to follow in the footsteps of former United favourites David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
We’ll finish off with the most obvious transfer, which to be honest now looks inevitable.
Eden Hazard is the box office name all Real Madrid fans crave. The Belgian has made no secret of his desire to play for the 13-time European champions, and now Zidane is back in the dugout it would be a huge shock if he doesn’t join his idol at the Bernabeu.
The Telegraph reports that Real have already made an ‘initial approach’ for the 28-year-old who is valued £100m. Hazard only has a year left on his Blues contract, and should he stay on and refuse to sign a new deal that means he’s off for free in 2020.